Don't bet the farm on tourism

Staff writer
September 21, 2012 01:00 AM


Like any other property owner/businessman, Klaus Fuerniss should be allowed to build his Hotel George if it conforms to zoning and the community plan.

But Gibsons residents should be wary of tourism as a basis for our economy. A quick Google search shows that the convention centre industry in North America is overbuilt while demand is in steep decline.

Travel is getting more expensive and consumers have less disposable income. Webinars are booming, but the golden age of tourism is over. As we have already seen on the Coast tourism is declining and as any Coaster knows it is hard to ask travellers to Vancouver to take an additional time and money costly trip over here.

There is also another building moral and business problem for Mr. Fuerniss to consider. Air travel generates about three times the greenhouse gas effect of land travel. International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol has warned that "(t)he door is closing, if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever." Birol was warning against building more fossil fuel infrastructure (like the Northern Gateway pipeline), but he could be talking about destination holiday infrastructure too. Climate change isn't going away and Mr. Fuerniss should consider the effects of stiff carbon taxes or even travel rationing and how it will effect his hotel's future.

Bill Henderson


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